Moving the historic train station
In related news, Engle also told council the city last week advertised for bids for companies to pour the foundations for the historic train station’s two buildings, and those bids are due next week. The contractors are required to have the foundations completed by March 31. The concrete needs to be cured before the buildings can be placed on them.
The tentative date to move the buildings is between mid-April and late May, and the city is in contact with CSX about extending the deadline to have the station moved by another 60 days, from late March.
Council last year voted to save both the station’s buildings by moving them, noting the depot hosted visits by presidents Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. CSX had wanted to demolish the abandoned buildings.
What needs to happen
With the passage in November of the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill, hopes were buoyed about the possibilities Hamilton and Middletown might get stations, with Middletown also being a possibility for the Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland route.
The federal legislation contains $66.6 billion for expansion of Amtrak services, with a question being whether Gov. Mike DeWine and state lawmakers will agree to accept the federal money for infrastructure improvements. Over time, the state would be required to pay some Amtrak operating costs, a factor that led former Gov. John Kasich to return $400 million to the federal government that would have helped a similar expansion.
Vice Mayor Michael Ryan on Wednesday told his colleagues he had spoken with state Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) and state Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester), “because at this point in the game, now the state needs to get involved to get these plans going so we can get the trains coming through town again, and they are 100-percent behind this initiative, they’re excited for the city, and they are going to go to bat for us.”
The train platforms “are going to be another platform to the city,” Ryan said.
“I think it would be a wonderful help for us,” Carruthers told the Journal-News. “I have always wanted to take a train to things, so I think it would be great. I think it would be a lot of fun, besides everything else, to be honest.”
She plans to meet soon with Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks, “so I really don’t know all the details just yet,” Carruthers said.
“We’ll see what happens,” she added. “I don’t want to get on board until we know the money’s there and we can pay for all of it and everything else, but I think it’s a great idea.”